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Travel: Seaside chic, that's Brighton; Ever since it became a fashionable Regency resort Brighton has drawn hordes of visitors to its many and varied attractions, writes Hannah Jones.

Byline: Hannah Jones

STYLISH, cosmopolitan and eccentric, Brighton and Hove has always had a reputation for glamour, flamboyance and fun, which is why today over eight million people per year visit the `city-by-the-sea'.

One of the city's best known and most unusual landmarks is the Royal Pavilion, Europe's most extravagant royal palace, with its exotic fusion of Indian domes and minarets and oriental interiors - absolutely a must.

The Beachfront is the place to see and be seen with its heady mix of hip city chic and beachcomber cool.

It's Brighton at its best - laid back and sporty, contemporary and traditional, stylish and fun-loving, all at the same time.

A walk between the piers takes you past artists' studios,surfer hangouts, groovy bars and cafes, volleyball and basketball courts, dramatic sculptures, fresh fish, a Victorian carousel and the children's adventure playground and paddling pool.

Enjoy all the fun of the traditional seaside on Brighton Pier - a whirl on the Waltzer, a face full of candy floss, fish and chips or a fluffy dolphin won on the hoopla.

Visit the Sea Life Centre with its sharks, rays, turtles, seahorses and longest underwater viewing tunnel in Europe. Or take the Volks Railway along the seafront - England's oldest electric railway and the lazy way to get to Brighton Marina.

I found that this town's made for walking, so take time to explore the narrow cobbled alleys of The Lanes, the old quarter, now a great place for shopping for antiques, jewellery, chic homeware and designer clothes, with lively cafes, bars and restaurants.

The North Laine is the laid-back home of some of the most unusual and quirky shops you'll find anywhere, selling everything from African textiles, skateboards and Mexican baskets to Fender Stratocasters, Cuban cigars and bonsai trees.

There's the award-winning Churchill Square shopping centre for all your favourite high street names - 85 of them under one glass-domed roof - and designer discount shopping at Brighton Marina Village.

The arts play a major part in city life and all year round you can see pre and post-West End shows at the Theatre Royal, fringe at Komedia, cutting-edge performers at the Gardner Arts Centre and pop stars at the Brighton Centre.

The Brighton Dome on the Royal Pavilion estate reopened in May following a pounds 30m restoration, transforming it into an international centre for performing arts.

The city's museums are treasure houses of inspiring objects from all eras and cultures. Brighton Museum and Art Gallery has undergone a pounds 10m development and now has dynamic and innovative new galleries, including World Art, 20th-century Decorative Art Fashion and Style, Body and Social History which feature exciting interactive displays appealing to all ages. Discover Brighton's origins at the Fishing Museum and its development at the 1820's Regency Town House, while Preston Manor offers a glance at the life of a prosperous Edwardian family and their servants.

Take a nostalgic look at childhood at the Brighton Toy and Model Museum - parents will enjoy it just as much as the kids.

For something different, see the gleaming steam engines at the British Engineerium, or enjoy panoramic views of the countryside in the `camera obscura' at Foredown Tower. And there's always something happening on the seafront and in the streets and parks - classic car rallies and kite festivals, fun runs and French markets, parties and processions.

Brighton's nightlife is relaxed and fun-fuelled, with stylish bars, traditional pubs and the biggest selection of restaurants outside London - more than 400 serving mouthwatering cuisine from around the world.

There's live music nearly every night of the week and the club scene is legendary.

Home to world famous DJs like Fatboy Slim, the clubs host some of the most exciting nights around.

Less than an hour by train from central London, fashionable, funky and loaded with style, Brighton and Hove is the perfect city break by the sea. n

CAPTION(S):

Opposite, Brighton Pier and beach. Above, the Royal Pavilion. Left, the Sea Life Centre and, bottom, the bandstand
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 31, 2002
Words:664
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